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Caught on camera

Apr 2017 Fire & Security, Security Systems | Comments Off on Caught on camera
Caught on camera

Matt Parton, of leading security products supplier ESP, provides the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by installers on the subject of CCTV

What comprises a CCTV system?

There are four main components of a CCTV system:

  • DVR (digital video recorder) – the brains and storage device of the system
  • Camera – the eyes of the system
  • Cable – to connect the cameras to the DVR
  • Monitor – to connect to the DVR for initial set-up and accessing the menu/playback functions.
  • What type of system should I go for?

    This will depend on what the end user and operator of the system expects and will require a thorough examination of the requirements. The installer can then assess the coverage and the image detail that is required.

    A system can be built by selecting the individual components or purchasing a CCTV kit that contains everything required.

    What should I look for in a DVR?

    The record resolution of the DVR is very important; this will dictate the quality of the footage. For high definition quality, 720 pixels and upwards is recommended.

    The hard drive capacity will identify how much footage can be stored.

    Functions such as the schedule record and motion detection record facilities are not only beneficial for utilising storage space on the hard drive, but also useful when it is time to play back an incident that has been captured.

    How long will a DVR record for?

    There are a few variables to consider: hard drive capacity, how many cameras are on a system, and whether the system is set to record continuously 24/7 or is on motion detection record.

    As a general guide, 1TB (terabyte) should be plenty to cover a 4-channel system with 720-pixel capability on motion record. This should cover the length of time the property could potentially be vacant, such as a two-week holiday.

    Are DVRs simple to use?

    Most systems now are mouse/remote controlled and have user-friendly menus.

    What should I look for when selecting a camera?

  • Resolution – this should match the DVR’s record resolution to achieve the required footage quality.
  • Lens size – the smaller the lens size, the broader the image that can be achieved.
  • IR (infra-red) – this measures the capability of the camera for night-time use and is typically stipulated in metres. If you wish to achieve 10m at night then it is best to select a camera with 20m capability. Also, standard security flood lights will help night-time viewing.
  • P rating – if the camera is to be used externally, the IP rating will provide a guide for its suitability. Typically, IP66 will be a good option for most external applications.
  • Where should I place the cameras?

    Generally cameras will cover doorways, windows and anywhere on the property that is vulnerable. There may be different applications, for example, covering a car, an outhouse or monitoring staff or a relative.

    If there is a specific target to be covered, make sure the target takes up a minimum 25% of the view of the camera.

    What type of cable do I use?

    Typically, RG59 shot gun cable – this will carry the video and power signal to the camera. Pre-terminated cable is also available for quick plug-and-play installations. Alternatively Cat5e cable with Baluns can be used.

    How far can I run a camera from a DVR?

    Most systems can achieve 300m-plus, but this is dependent on the cable type and power location.

    Can I connect a DVR to a normal TV?

    Yes, the majority of systems will have outputs such as HDMI, which are suitable for most televisions. But it’s important to install the DVR in a secure location, not next to the TV/DVD player, for example, because this will make the system vulnerable.

    What is remote viewing?

    Most CCTV systems can now connect to the internet. The system can then be accessed remotely from anywhere in the world via smartphone, laptop or PC, as long as there is a data connection.